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World Happiness Report 2017: How Did Frontier Markets Perform?

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Solutions Network published the latest edition of the World Happiness Report on Monday 20th March 2017, a report that collates data from over 150 countries and ranks them by how happy they are.

The rankings are based on a survey of 1,000 people across 150 countries, with the data providing key information for the following metrics:

  1. GDP per capita
  2. Quality of social support
  3. Health and life expectancy
  4. Freedom to make life choices
  5. How generous people are
  6. Levels of corruption and trust in the country

Scandinavian countries tend to top these rankings on a yearly basis and it was no different in the latest report as  Norway (1st), Denmark (2nd), Iceland (3rd) and Finland (5th) remain in the Top 5 globally.

Geography of Happiness

Geography of Happiness (world map).

So how did Frontier Markets perform?

Frontier Markets Happiness Rankings 2017

FM Rank Overall Rank Country Score
1 21  United Arab Emirates 6.648
2 24  Argentina 6.599
3 27  Malta 6.527
4 30  Panama 6.452
5 35  Qatar 6.375
6 37  Saudi Arabia 6.344
7 38  Trinidad and Tobago 6.168
8 39  Kuwait 6.105
9 40  Slovakia 6.098
10 41  Bahrain 6.087
11 52  Lithuania 5.902
12 54  Latvia 5.85
13 57  Romania 5.825
14 60  Kazakhstan 5.819
15 61  North Cyprus* 5.81
16 62  Slovenia 5.758
17 64  Mauritius 5.629
18 65  Cyprus* 5.621
19 66  Estonia 5.611
20 73  Serbia 5.395
21 74  Jordan 5.336
22 76  Jamaica 5.311
23 77  Croatia 5.293
24 80  Pakistan 5.269
25 84  Morocco 5.235
26 88  Lebanon 5.225
27 92  Macedonia 5.175
28 94  Vietnam 5.074
29 95  Nigeria 5.074
30 100  Mongolia 4.955
31 102  Tunisia 4.805
32 104  Egypt 4.735
33 105  Bulgaria 4.714
34 107  Cameroon 4.695
35 108  Iran 4.692
36 110  Bangladesh 4.608
37 111  Namibia 4.574
38 112  Kenya 4.553
39 115  Senegal 4.535
40 120  Sri Lanka 4.44
41 128  Ivory Coast 4.18
42 131  Ghana 4.12
43 132  Ukraine 4.096
44 133  Uganda 4.081
45 142  Botswana 3.766
46 153  Tanzania 3.349

The United Arab Emirates has not only been ranked as the happiest country in the Middle East, but also the happiest Frontier Market in 2017. The positive news has been attributed to increased efforts in providing jobs, essential services, security and infrastructure to its citizens. The improved ranking will also be welcomed by many who want to see the country in the Top 5 be 2021.

Argentina, Malta, Panama and Qatar complete the top 5. It is worth noting that only two Sub-Saharan African countries feature in the top 30 happiest Frontier Markets: Mauritius (17th) and Nigeria (29th).

On the other end of the spectrum, Tanzania continued its downward spiral and was ranked as the unhappiest Frontier Market, with Botswana, Uganda, Ukraine and Ghana completing the bottom 5. There are no countries in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region ranked in the bottom 10 Frontier Markets.

Improvements and Declines

The Frontier Markets that improved their happiness scores the most since 2005-2007 were mainly European countries. These include:

  1. Latvia (+1.364) – The Baltic nation has experienced the largest improvement among Frontier Markets and has successfully climbed up the rankings of the past few years. A survey in 2015 revealed that 59% of Latvian residents consider themselves happy, compared to the 27% and 10% that felt unhappy and very unhappy respectively.
  2. Bulgaria (+0.87) – Previously ranked as the unhappiest country in the EU, Bulgaria has slowly been improving its image and reforms in the country have filtered through into the country’s happiness rankings.

Other countries include Slovakia (+0.833), Macedonia (+0.681) and Serbia (+0.645).

On the other hand, the Frontier Markets that recorded the largest declines in their scores are:

  1. Botswana (-0.973) – High levels of corruption and underwhelming education standards have seen Botswana consistently rank as one of the unhappiest places on the planet.
  2. Ukraine (-0.93)Corruption, slow reforms and an ongoing political crisis have condemned the European Frontier Market to experience a deterioration in its happiness scores over the past few years.

Other large decliners were Jamaica (-0.897), Saudi Arabia (-0.829) and Tanzania (-0.776), with the latter earning the crown of 2017’s Unhappiest Frontier Market.

The complete report can be found here. A section dedicated to Africa can be found here.

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About James Eugene (42 Articles)
Interested in many (maybe too many) things. Football, Politics and Emerging & Frontier Markets, to name a few. Twitter: @James_Eugene

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. March 2017’s Best & Worst Performing Frontier Markets – Frontier Market News
  2. Africa Investment Index: Which Countries are the Most Attractive for Investors? – Frontier Market News

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